I was asked this question today by my old friend Rick.
Will Cellular 3G/4G services replace wired connections?
It is a good question. In the asymmetric space where the price points are under $ 200 per site the idea of replacing these with a sub $ 60 data plan seems attractive.
We use 3G/4G quite a bit at Frontier. For the most part, we never use it as a primary connection but rather we use it as a ‘back-up’ or ‘out of band’ link.
Here is why:
A wired service is Just Faster – you will often see examples of ‘peered’ applications with pretty good speeds. For the most part, it is great for some of the more obvious social media or video sharing sites (ie: Youtube). But for mail and business to business applications the performance is just not there.
Steady Speeds Matter – mentioned above, we often see a massive shift of avaialble speeds during any test period and not just during the day, but over lets say three sample periods over 3 hours.
Poor Upload Speeds – Business usage and personal usage are pretty different. To support business users, you want to see equally adequate upload speeds. This is often not the case.
Latency Hurts Some Apps – This is the big one. Voice over Private Network (in our case) or Voice over IP (the other not as awesome way) really don’t like latency over 70 milliseconds (ms). In the case of cellular, we often see north of 70.
So, what would be the summary?
For heavy data users and for a circuit that is shared in an office amongst many people – cutting the wired cord is probably a bad idea. However, if you use your Internet connection only for e-mail, social networking, and the like, and you don’t demand high-quality video, a reasonably fast hotspot connection might be all you need.